A temporary line along the bridge’s decommissioned walkway is currently serving the north side of the river. The new gas line will replace a previous line that had been passed through a support area to hang directly underneath the bridge.
“We had a capital project planned for 2012 in a way of removing that line,” said Dave Burdeniuk, director of government and media relations for SaskEnergy. “We’re going to take about two weeks to connect the system on either side of the river and complete the safety checks probably by late this month.”
The eight-inch steel pipeline is being installed under the riverbed, a more modern method according to Burdeniuk.
“You don’t plow in even through the bottom of the riverbed,” he said. “You go down underneath the bottom of the riverbed and then come up the other side.”
The new gas line is meant to accommodate growth in the area, providing the city with an alternative natural gas supply to the north side of the river.
Removal of the temporary line may be co-ordinated with the city, Burdeniuk said.
“We have just over 750 residential customers across the river and just under 100 commercial customers that are across the river,” he said. “For us, priority is to get a permanent solution in place before the winter heating season kicks in.”
The line’s longevity will depend on maintenance moreso than age, according to Burdeniuk.
“It’s about how well you maintain and inspect it,” he said. “The biggest threat that we face in our system is contractors or homeowners who don’t call before they dig and they come into contact with our pipeline.”
Burdeniuk said that if there were a leak, an odour would be detected.
“We also do leak inspections. And this is a major line, so it will be checked on both sides of the river … We would know if there were an issue — a drop in pressure or something — because of the leak. We would be able to detect that and act appropriately,” he said.
With the work, the city has set out some traffic restrictions that are expected to last until Thursday morning.
The city has closed River Street from First Avenue to Third Avenue West, as well as First Avenue West from River Street to 11th Street and the River Street off-ramp from the Diefenbaker Bridge.
There will also be some intermittent traffic stoppages east of the Diefenbaker Bridge on Highway 55.